The story of our friendship is straight from the books. We fought a lot when we were young and immature. Who's to say that we would end up this close? Sometimes fate really slaps you with the sweetest surprise, and you just have to enjoy the ride.
Schroudinger's cat. The cat is in the box. Is it alive? Is it dead?
Hiningi ko pa sa katabi ko sa subway yung scratch paper na pinagsulatan ko nito. I just wanted to write non-stop without having to check my spelling, or having to look for the keys on the keyboard. Heniwei, on with the story.
I've known you for nearly twenty years. For the first 17 years, the meaningful conversations that we had were not really worth writing for. You were an acquaintance. I was just someone you see everyday for four years of high school. If we were stuck in a room, we won't have anything to say to each other. Probably a lot of dead air and awkward silence. And yet, more than a week ago, there i was, on a first class seat (coz there were no seats available) to LA, meeting you like a long-lost friend, about to welcome you in this lonely and big country. All this while thinking -- will he hug me when he sees me? Will it feel awkward?
In high school, i only have two memorable recollections of you. One was an awful memory, and one was a surprisingly delightful experience.
The first was on our fourth year in high school, sa journal room, a little after the sabayang bigkas competition.
IV-1 lost. You were the rebel back then. You didn't even join the contest. And you were an asshole. In my POV, epal ka eh. You were so happy we lost. You fraternized with the enemy. You never shared our pain. You were never there for the group. At least that's how i felt. I forgot to factor in your being a teenager, we all were, and you were just being defensive. Everyone thought you were the pasaway, so you became the pasaway. A little like a self-fulfilled prophecy.
There was a heated argument, about which i don't remember anymore. And i have to admit, i was a loud-mouth. Next thing i know, your fist was against my face, your other hand was grabbing my shirt, and you were threatening me to shut the hell up or you'll punch the diva in me. I didn't shut up. You didn't hit me. But i remember feeling so awful. i felt bullied coz i was scrawny and small, i was a no-match for you. Not until later that i realized, i was also an asshole. Kupal.
The last one was during the fourth year Science field trip sa Batis ng Makiling.
After swimming, a close guy friend and I went to the shower room and rubbed each other. We had so much fun making lathers and bubbles, that when we went out, the bus already left! Naknamputa. How are we going home?! My bag was nowhere, i didnt have shoes on, he wasn't wearing a shirt. There was one last bus that went back, we got on it, hoping to see our bus so that we can hop on and be reunited with the class. We've been traveling for a few miles when i saw you running, going from bus to bus, trying to find us.
Savior. Kulang na lang eh kapa at tights, Superman na Superman na ang dating mo brad! It was like seeing someone fly towards you amidst a blinding light, about to save you from the perils of being lost and left out. For the first time, i admitted to myself. You're kinda cute.
Kumahog kami pababa ng bus, nakatapak pa ko! There was some moderate traffic so we were able to run while the buses weren't moving. Unfortunately di na natin naabutan yung bus ng IV-1 so we just went back to the other bus and rode in silence. Awkward.
And that was it! I cant remember the two of us ever hanging out alone. We've never sat next to each other in class, on any jeepney ride, let alone do anything together.
Our senior year was the year i got to feel your presence in my universe. You were in your puberty, unable to tell if you're a boy or a man. You're in transition. It is of course natural to have kilig moments, ligawan, hatid-hatid and tuksuhan. It was the crush ng bayan who caught your attention. Snacks after school, hanging out at someone's house, just chilling, not wanting the senior year to end.
I was friends with the female population of our class of course! Back then, i was still in the closet, although I'm pretty sure everybody knew about my sexuality. Ako ang official gentleman ng klase. Every girl was a close friend. And every girl was asking for my opinion on the elusive rebel. Sorry brad, i didn't bet on you. They liked you for her, then for another girl. Everyone was confused, i told everyone not to trust you. It was obvious we didnt like each other, and now I'm wondering.
If i had known how great a person you would turn out to be, things would have been very different.
Kung naging totoong magkaibigan tayo noon pa, close pa rin kaya tayo hanggang ngayon? Probably not. I would have fallen for you even before, and it would have ruined our friendship.
I guess being friends when we were older and more mature was the very reason we became real close. Our youth would have destroyed us. Or maybe we could have been longtime buddies with two decades' worth of memories.
Its all in the past, and what matters is now.
Whatever this is, I'll take it.
Thanks for making me happy again. I was so hung up on my heartbreak from that guy on my photo shoot, who turned out to be a typical straight guy. Because of you i was able to get my daily dose of kilig, hagikhik and pa-sweet. I am able to smile like a lunatic again. I am able to feel excited every time my phone beeps and i see that teeny-tiny notification icon. I am able to gain a friend i never thought i could have.
Being an OFW is hard because you have to rely on technology to keep in touch with people that you care about. So far, technology has been on my side. It allowed me to get a glimpse of who you really are. Some people might dismiss our closeness as just an online thing that people do when they're bored or lonely. Nah. What we have is real. And i intend to keep it that way. Everytime we talk online, regardless of the distance, without all the physical contacts necessary for intimacy, I believe our friendship will flourish till we are older and withered.
By the way, you don't get to die first. I won't survive in a world where you don't exist.
Even as I was typing this and you were fussing around the kitchen cooking our dinner, the sight of you made me giddy with kilig, the kind of happiness reserved for the most special person in my life. Seeing you, being with you those 2 days gave me a glimpse of all the "what could have beens" and the "what ifs" and the "somehow, somewhere, somedays" I've been longing for my whole life.
If i will be another secret, I'm willing to keep it that way. And you know what? I'll let you in on something. I know you. I know when you're genuinely happy, when you're trying to be funny, when you're all manly, when you're uncomfortable, when you're trying to make sense of something you did or said. I know when you're trying to divert the attention away from "us". I know when you're trying to make fun of me, and when you're really having fun. In a lot of aspects, i know you. I know now.
Our first night together worried me. Sobrang layo mo sa kama kulang na lang sa sahig ka matulog. What if you decide what would come based on your uncomfortable sleep? What if you decide that you can never cross the bridge? What if you pull out the same stunt you tried to do when you wanna get rid of somebody? I don't wanna be a casualty in the long run.
Sabi nung isa kong kaibigan, eto daw ang dapat na mantra: Danasin at ipaubaya. Sabi ko naman, may kulang.
Danasin at ipaubaya. Danasin at ipaglaban. Matuto.
Madalas di ko alam kung seryoso ka sa mga hirit mo, o kung sinasakyan mo lang mga panlalandi ko. Madalas i dont know where i stand with you. Madalas parang pinagbibigyan mo lang ako. Madalas para kong nasa balag ng alanganin, not knowing when to take you seriously. Madalas para kong nasa roller coaster, takot na takot mag-message sayo kasi baka makulitan ka sa akin, tuwang tuwa naman pag nakita kang online, at pag nauuna kang mag-message.
But i believe we're both mature enough to admit that this has gone from simple chatting, to close friendship, to the proverbial bridge we're currently heading. Sabi mo "I'll cross the bridge when we get there." I don't wanna cross the bridge. I don't want you to tell me that "you never got there". If i could keep it this way, i would. But...
I had to do this, i had to ask you, i had to tell you how i feel. "It's complicated" is something you tell yourself when you're scared. I had to act on it. Ayokong magsisi na hindi mo nalaman kung gaano ka kaimportante at kahalaga sa akin. I dont wanna regret not telling u how much u mean to me, and i dont wanna miss the chance of knowing that I'm also special to you. I want the part of you that you refuse to give...
Please don't be scared. Do you remember what you told me about that guy who went to the movies with me, and held my hands in the dark? Sabi mo madilim kasi kaya ok lang na hawakan nya ang kamay ko. Pero pag nasanay na sha, sa susunod hahawakan nya ako sa liwanag na. After what happened, when he suddenly stopped talking to me, you promised me na hinding hindi mo yun gagawin sa akin. Whatever happens, you won't pull back. You will always keep our friendship. Remember that promise, always.
Don't pull away. I'm not asking you to feel the same way, or for us to be anything but friends. I'm good with what we have. It's more than enough.
Just let me express this happiness. If there's one thing i'm proud of, it would be our friendship. Baka kasi pag inipon ko, mag-spontaneous combustion na lang ako bigla sa sobrang dami ng pagmamahal na umaapaw sa kasulok-sulukan ng apdo, balun-balunan, atay, lapay at puso ko.
So far, my heart has been like velcro. I never get attached, i can easily let go, i never get too depressed on every heartbreak that i encounter, and mind you, ive had a lot. This time, if i get a heartbreak, I'm gonna need a hell of a massive bathtub to wallow, a gigantic bucket of chocochip mint ice cream, and a front row seat to Les Miserables.
The story of our friendship is straight from the books. From being merely acquaintances, to online buddies, to this. we have arrived at a crossroads.
Schrodinger’s cat — that one in a box. It’s your call whether to declare it dead or alive. You choose whether to keep it contained, or let it out.
If you are to ask me, the cat is alive.
Waiting for you to decide.
When you’re ready… I’ll be.